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posted: 3/26/2012 5:35 PM

10 suburban police agencies to focus on commercial vehicle safety

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Drivers may be familiar with the numerous traffic safety enforcement campaigns that take place throughout the year with the help of Illinois Department of Transportation grants.

Now, the effort has expanded to a new class of drivers.

Over the next few months, 10 suburban law enforcement agencies including the Addison, Algonquin, Bartlett, Lombard, McHenry and Palatine police departments will focus on reducing commercial motor vehicle crashes and related fatalities.

"Getting motorists in all types of vehicles to slow down has shown to be one of the most effective ways to decrease fatalities," IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell said. "This is another effort to allow our local partners to participate in reaching that goal."

IDOT has doled out a total of $135,815 in grant funding so that the 10 agencies can provide overtime pay or hire back officers to work on truck enforcement, mainly during daylight hours between April 1 and June 30.

Palatine Police Cmdr. Mike Seebacher said the village, which received $18,655, will zero in on speed, occupant restraint and vehicle safety violations involving commercial trucks.

Officers also will conduct speed surveys before and after the grant to measure effectiveness, as well as launch a public education campaign to bring awareness to the efforts, Seebacher said. Participating officers will be specially trained and certified in commercial vehicle law.

According to IDOT, enforcement campaigns such as these have helped decrease the number of traffic deaths in the state to 911 in 2009, down from 1,043 fatalities in 2008. Preliminary figures show traffic deaths fell by another 108 fatal crashes in 2010.

Truck accidents are a significant danger on the roads. When applying for the grant, Lombard, for instance, submitted statistics showing 212 truck-involved accidents from 2007 to 2011.

Other agencies that received the IDOT grant are Hillside, Lemont, Summit and the Will County Sheriff's Office, Tridgell said.

• Staff writer Marie Wilson contributed to this report.

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